Playfulness makes repeated reads a must for fans of cats or calculation.

CATASTROPHE!

A STORY OF PATTERNS

Will learning patterns help these felines fish?

A bevy of kitties sets out to catch some dinner. They line up on the dock. Captain Cat checks their boots: good; and their poles: good…but they are lined up with no regard for life-jacket color, and their lines have become tangled. It’s a “CATastrophe!” Their leader says they need some order, a pattern. First they identify their pattern core, noting that jackets are either orange or green. When they line up orange, green, orange, green—no more tangled lines. (Anglers may question this phenomenon.) Captain Cat calls out the pattern for rowing in the canoe, but the kitties get it wrong and they spin in circles. When they all repeat the pattern core, things move smoothly. The swishing of tails nearly tips the canoe as they wait for a tug on their lines, but another pattern settles things. All the patterning is for naught when two small, wily fish tie the lines to a giant fish, and all the cats end up in the drink. They troop back to camp sodden, but a warm fire and a snack soon have them purring in a pattern as they snooze tucked up in their sleeping bags. Stephens deftly incorporates the concepts of patterns and pattern cores into her simple tale and includes an enjoyable explanatory page at the close as well as integrated seek-and-find challenges. Harney’s bright, energy-filled cartoons are a great match and maintain a fine balance of cute, color, comedy…and cats. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Playfulness makes repeated reads a must for fans of cats or calculation. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63592-321-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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